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Barry from Australia is a questioning soul who looks at social issues from an alternative point of view and instead of asking, “Why?”, he asks “Why not?” He’s convinced that many of his previous incarnations were spent in China. He feels drawn to the people there; attracted by their rich culture and way of life. If given one wish from God, he’d reply, “I want everyone on Earth to be the same colour, speak the same language, and treat each other as they themselves would like to be treated.”
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My China Trip - Day 21, Part 7 我的中国之行-第21天,第7部分    

By Barry Pittman
4480 Views | 24 Comments | 1/7/2015 10:16:28 AM

It had proven to be an extremely tough yet fascinating day.  Tina and I had just returned from a three hour hike in the dark aroundthe myriad ridges, gullies and foothills surrounding her home town of Shawan.  We’d badly miscalculated though on how much daylight was left in the day, after being both entertained and intrigued by a visit to a half completed monastery in the distant hills.  Being somewhat remote, hardly anyone visited the place, so upon spotting us, the caretaker monk there had been only too pleased to show us around. 



Quite probably, I was the first Westerner privileged enough to have been there.  This illustrated the fact that if foreigners go to China –  or any overseas nation, for that matter – they should do themselves a favour andabandon the normal touristy spots and head into the more remote, traditional areas of wherever they were.  Only then, would they see the real country, the real traditions, the real people.



I thus was very lucky to be with Tina, who lived in a small regional town.  This allowed us to head out on many fascinating adventures together that would’ve been impossible to do elsewhere, had we been hemmed in by the concrete skyscrapers and impossible traffic within one of China’s many sprawling big urban areas.



My previous two pilgrimages to China had entailed me traveling largely around the big cities that were interesting enough in their own way, but the travels had been nowhere near as nice as this trip, where we tended to avoid the big smoke as best we could.  The only large metropolitan area I’d visited on this journey so far was Chengdu, that in many respects looked similar to other Chinese metropolises I’d been to previously such as Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou or Xuzhou.  I reckoned that big cities all around the world in fact were basically similar to each other, whether you were in Vancouver; Sydney; Los Angeles or Hong Kong.  Tall buildings; unsmiling people; frenetic activity; mass transit;  homeless people;  unclean air.  Sound familiar?



So most certainly, my strong recommendation for male chinalovematch.net readers was to get well away from the cities if possible, should they visit China.  But of course, if they do this, they’d need to be accompanied by someone with a knowledge of the language, as Mandarin without copious study was absolutely incomprehensible to native English speakers. 



It was a real shame that the Chinese spoke, well, Chinese.  Why couldn’t they have all done the pragmatic thing and decided at a national level decades ago to convert entirely to English?  With the population of China stubbornly maintaining their right to speak Chinese, hapless Westerners like me continually felt out of the loop here.  We were constantly surrounded by folk jibbering and jabbering away in what may as well have been Swahili, Martian or ancient Hebrew.



I thus call upon the readership of CLM to actively lobby the government in China to convert the country to English.  It would make Chinese online dating so much easier for everyone concerned.  In turn, the national economy of China would no doubt accelerate markedly and in fact flourish as never before, once word happily spread around the globe that the Chinese had at last come to their senses and decided to not speak Chinese any more.  Hallelujah  -  what a wonderful blessing to ignorant and stupid foreigners this then would be!



Not wanting to seem immodest, but all my life I had prided myself on possessing a well-developed knack of thinking well outside the box.  Often I dared to mentally dwell in arcane areas of thought that no one else had the foresight to entertain or explore.  On occasion I surreptitiously hoped though that this wasn’t in fact a sign of madness or latent dementia.  Mental illness ran in my family and who was I to deny the penetrating power of recessive gened heredity and ignominious family values!



This innovative proposal for China to totally abandon Chinese (including Mandarin as well as Cantonese and other Sino-Tibetan regional dialects) I believed was just another outstanding idea from this very humble, self-effacing author.  That's me, folks.  Letters of appreciation and solidarity for my thoughts aren’t needed, so please don’t bother to send any comments in about what I’ve suggested here, lest it become flooded or overwhelmed with positive responses.  I’ll be pleased to take your stunned silence and smoke coming out of your ears as gratitude and appreciation enough for my innovative suggestion, thank you all in anticipation.



But back to the matter at hand.  On this rather oddball evening, as Tina and I wearily staggered into the outskirts of Shawan, a curious sight was encountered.  A motley group of people were in the street not dancing, but just standing there waving their arms and clapping. 



“What are they doing?” I enquired quizzically.



“Oh, that’s their form of exercising.  Rather than dance or move too much, they prefer to just stand and clap their hands. They meet here every night.”  Upon hearing this, I burst out laughing.  Was this a joke or what?



Here Tina and I were pushing our bodies hard every day in order to get exercise, but these dear old souls simply stood in the square each night, smiled at each other, picked their noses and clapped their hands!  I trust I’m not the only one who can see the hilarity in this form of questionable “exercise”.  If keeping fit and healthy was this easy, I’m sure everyone would be doing it.  I mean, come on!  Life wasn't meant to be this indolent and easy, surely?



This illustrated an interesting feature of China.  The greater emphasis by its people on group activities in the streets or public squares.  This included not just communal dancing, sleeping or exercise, but also life in general.  Strangers tended to talk or haggle with  each other more freely here; cab drivers would gesticulate at you in order to try to solicit some business;  even the thieves and pick pockets were more friendly and abundant than in other parts of the world.  They'd wave and smile as they stole from you. What wasn’t to like about this endearing place?



In the West, the emergence of the nuclear family and need for privacy effectively condemned many hapless Westerners to lead lives of quiet desperation and loneliness, despite often living within a vast and madding crowd.  I should know, for many years I’d been one of these miserable bastards, prior to my hesitant appearance on this website, somewhat grudging and conflicted as it initially was.  But that's another off-the-record story for another time.



Another interesting point I noticed here was that many poor people in China appeared happier than many ordinary Westerners.  They lacked a big screen TV, latest model car, generous social benefits and some may have been hungry or destitute, but by way of compensation, what they did possess in spades was a close knit family with strong ties to multiple hangers on, friends and freeloaders surrounding them.  Most poor folk here had easy access to a huge number of annoying relatives, all of whom never hesitated to tell them what to think or do at every turn.  There was a bustling sense of genuine integration, community spirit and an advanced culture of gossiping about others that to its credit, was far more pronounced than elsewhere.  God bless China!



Everywhere I went, I saw people who by Western standards, appeared quite poor, yet the smiles on their faces as they wondered where their next meal would come from or how they could afford their exorbitant medical bills belied this. I'm not talking about the satisfied, burgeoning middle class here, but the poorer sectors.  As I slowly discovered, happiness was certainly not determined by how much we have, but how much we enjoy or make the most of, what we do in fact have. 



On this philosophical point, we should also be clear on what exactly is happiness, as opposed to mere self- indulgence.  Chinese often tended to be genuinely happy and friendly; Westerners often tended to be self-indulgent and selfish.  Chinese knew their place in life and the Universe. Westerners thought they did, but in reality they had no idea.  It was all very simple really, wasn't it?



Once again, allow me to lustily shout out to the ever beckoning heavens  – God bless ChinaGod bless the Chinese!



To be continued – Day 21, Part 8



事实证明这是非常艰苦而又迷人的一天。 蒂娜和我摸黑三个小时徒步从她的家乡沙湾刚刚返回来。沙湾四周被无数的山脊溪谷和山麓丘陵环绕。我们在参观半完工的寺院时流连忘返,以致严重失算天黑的时间。寺院地处偏僻,几近人迹罕至,因此看守和尚见到我们到访,非常乐意带我们四处参观。



很可能我是第一个到访此地的幸运西方人。这说明一个事实,即如果外国人来中国 - 或者任何海外国家- 他们应该放弃大众观光景点,而选择偏僻传统的区域。只有这样他们才能看到这个国家的本真,真正的传统,真实的人。



我很幸运能和来自小县城的蒂娜在一起。如果我们选择中国某个大城市,只会被混凝土摩天大楼和拥堵的交通困在肆意扩张的某个市区,根本不可能一起经历奇异冒险。



我的前两次中国朝圣旅程,走的大部分路线是大城市,尽管也有趣之极,也比不上这次,因为这一趟我们尽量避开雾都。到目前为止,这次旅行中我唯一去过的大都市是成都,在很多方面类似于其他我去过的中国大城市如上海,南京,杭州和苏州。其实我估计世界各地的大城市基本上相似,无论是温哥华,悉尼,洛杉矶或香港,高层建筑,不苟言笑的人,狂热的活动,公共交通,无家可归的人,不洁的空气,听起来很熟悉吧? 



因此无疑地,我强烈建议来中国旅游的CLM男性读者远离城市。不过当然,要这么做得有会说中文的人陪同,对以英语为母语的人来说,没有经过一翻苦功,普通话完全难以理解。



呃,中国人说中文真是一大遗憾。为什么中国不在几十年前做个完全务实的事情,决定在全国范围内使用英语?中国人固执地保持说中语,像我这倒霉的西方人老觉得自己是个圈外人,我们不断被身边叽叽喳喳类似火星语或古希伯来语包围着。



因此我呼吁CLM的读者积极游说政府将母语转变为英语。这将使中国在线约会容易得多。反过来,一旦中国人终于幡然悔悟,决定不说中文的资讯在全球范围内蔓延开来,中国的国民经济无疑会显著加快,事实上是前所未有的蓬勃发展。哈利路亚 - 这对无知和愚蠢的外国人而言会是多棒的福分!



不想显得我在自吹,但这一生,我曾自持具有高瞻远瞩的思考诀窍。我常常沉浸在神秘晦涩难解的思想领域,别人就缺乏勇气或远见去考虑探索它。有时我暗地里希望这不是发疯或潜有老年痴呆症的征兆。我的家族有精神病史,我又怎能否认顽固的隐性遗传基因和耻辱的家庭价值的力量!



建议中国彻底放弃中文(包括普通话和粤语及汉藏地区方言)的革新方案,我认为是我这个很不起眼的谦虚作者的又一杰出想法。这就是我,亲们。赞赏和声援这个主张的信件就不需要了,所以请别劳烦发任何意见给CLM,以免积极的反应泛滥成灾。我会很高兴把你们的目瞪口呆和耳朵冒烟作为对这个创新建议的感谢和赞赏,谢谢大家的期待。



回到手头的事情。在这个相当古怪的晚上,蒂娜和我疲倦地蹒跚进沙湾郊区时遇到一个奇怪的景象,一群人聚在大街上,倒不是跳舞,只是挥舞着他们的手臂和鼓掌。



“他们在干什么?”我不解地问。



哦,那是他们的锻炼方式。不需舞蹈或动作太大,只是立着和鼓掌,他们每天晚上都来。”听到这话,我就笑了。这是一个笑话还是什么?



蒂娜和我每天都在努力推压身体才得以锻炼,但这些亲爱的老人家只是每天晚上站在广场上,对彼此笑,挖鼻子和鼓掌!我相信我不是唯一一个对这种受质疑的“锻炼”方式觉得好笑。如果保持健康和体型这么容易,我敢肯定每个人都会去做了。我是说,拜托!生活并不意味着这么懒散闲适吧,真是如此?



这说明了中国的一个有趣现象。人民更强调大街上或公共广场的集体活动,这不仅包括集体舞,睡眠或运动,还有生活的各方面。陌生人更自由地谈论或讨价还价;出租车司机会为了尽量招揽客户而打手势;甚至小偷作案的方式也比世界其他地区更友好和丰富,他们边挥手微笑边偷你东西。这个可爱的地方有什么不让人喜欢的?



在西方,核心家庭的出现及对隐私的需要,有效地促使许多身处闹市的西方人不幸地过着孤独绝望的僻静生活。我应该知道很多年前我就是其中一个可怜的混蛋,当时我还在犹豫要不要上CLM,和最初的时候一样有点不情愿和抵触。但这是另一时期的小八卦了。



我还注意到有趣的一点,许多中国贫苦人比普通西方人显得更快乐。他们没有大屏幕电视,或最新型号的汽车、优厚的社会福利,有些可能还是食不果腹或穷困潦倒,但是作为补偿,无疑地他们因家庭的纽带而担负多重压力,身边还围着朋友和贪图便宜的人。大部分可怜的人有很多恼人的亲戚,他们从不犹豫在每个关口告诉他们要怎么想或怎么做。这里有着真正的一体化和团体精神的喧嚣感,还有值得一提的是,远远比其他地方更为明显的议论别人的高深文化。上帝保佑中国!



我所到之处遇到的人,按西方标准来看,他们属相当贫困,但他们脸上的笑容,不会因为愁下一顿饭或支付高昂的医疗费用而淹没。我 指的不是富足的新兴中产阶层,而是贫困阶层。我也慢慢发现,幸福显然不是取决于我们所拥有的,而取决于从中实际所能享受或得到的。



从哲学的角度说,我们也应该清楚到底何为幸福,而不是单纯的自我放纵。中国人常倾向于真正的快乐和友好;西方人往往倾向于自我放纵和自私。中国人知道自己在人生及宇宙中所处的位置,西方人认为自己也明白,但事实不然。这一切真的都非常简单,不是吗?



让我再一次向永恒的美妙天堂使劲呐喊-上帝保佑中国!



上帝保佑中国人民!


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(Showing 1 to 10 of 24) 1 2 3 More...
#2015-01-31 16:16:25 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, these more recent blogs are definitely coming from a higher plain than the earlier versions. The humour is deeper, the content more thought provoking and challenging and the descriptions more vivid and captivating. I, for one, am much impressed.

But one small thing; what's with the frogs??? (think)

#2015-01-31 17:14:12 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

" I, for one, am much impressed. "

Thanks for this, John.

I've discovered there are two methods of telling a story. One can write from the heart or one can write from the head.

I hope to do more of the former as my tales progress. This way, hopefully how I truly feel about things will become more apparent.

Writing multiple articles about just one day of activity also forces me to sit down and really ponder about things, as opposed to simply writing quickly and superficially. Writing these later articles is taking me considerably more time per article compared to previous ones, because of this. I enjoy the challenge however.

As for the frogs, John - I just happen to like them. One of God's little cold, clammy yet adorable creatures, I reckon. :)

#2015-01-31 23:23:07 by sharonshi @sharonshi

Cute frogs! They look very special.

Did you take the pictures at Shawan?

I like you are kidding Chinese speaking English instead of Chinese.:) I find that increasingly both Chinese and western people can speak Chinese and English. White and brown skin children speak excellent Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

Good to know you like some aspects of Chinese culture. Friends appreciate and learn from each other. Like you guys performed beautifully on AFC football court.

Enjoy your adventure!(sun)

#2015-02-01 01:02:46 by anonymous12861 @anonymous12861

Barry, your writings are leaning more towards "what is the meaning of life?" Very deep, soul searching, life changing events are happening to you. You articulate to the audience quite well how you are feeling mentally and physically. One thing I would like to say to you, I think Tina is the reason you are able to tap into these inner feelings, to be able to recognise them and understand them, she has helped you come out of the shell you had been in and want to live, to be able to enjoy life, experience it with a zest and keenness you had thought lost forever....I have never believed in the saying "behind every good man is a good woman" ideology, I believe it is the fact that each man and each women bring out the love, keenness for life, happiness in each other. If I hear one more man say "happy wife, happy life" I will bitch slap him. Both need to be happy in order to have a happy life.

I would like to hear more about how your relationship is growing with Tina each day you have been there with her. Some of her insights and reactions, experiences in relation to yours. This after all a "love story" right? (h)

General question for you, Tina or anyone else that can shed some insight to this question. Why do older(40 and older) Chinese women continue on with "the acting like a pouty teenager" behaviour? I have seen it a few times in my gf, many times in her mother and their female friends....My gf has for the most part given up that behaviour with me as it does not work with me, this also drives her crazy lol

Well written again Barry, looking forward to hearing the good news mate!

Cheers...(beer)

#2015-02-01 05:15:38 by bmccull @bmccull

In defence of Vancouver, the tall buildings are overshadowed by much taller mountains, the people are happy and the air is clean. It's true that they have frenetic activity, mass transit and even a few homeless/Australians.

#2015-02-01 07:12:14 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

@Barry1
Mate, I would like to order a pint of whatever it was that you drank before writing this blog(rofl)
Your idea of making China a totally 100% English speaking country is wonderful. We all know that Mandarin is a bloody hard language to learn, but most Chinese people studying English will also say the same about our native tongue.
Here is a little poem written back in the early 1900's that may even have native English speakers scratching their heads, let alone the 1.4 billion Chinese lol

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Some may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, dough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it's said like bed, not bead-
for goodness' sake don't call it 'deed'!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and date and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I mastered it when I was five!

On your other main point, I cannot agree more about your idea of getting out into the country. In my next Thailand blog readers will see that I had a similar experience, but this time on a rural country farm - just awesome!

And YES, I am also constantly amazed at how happy these relatively 'poor' people appear to be. It certainly makes a person stop and think !

Well done mate!

#2015-02-01 19:24:30 by Barry1 @Barry1

@sharonshi

"Cute frogs! They look very special. "

Thank you for this, Sharon. It's a pleasure to meet a fellow frog lover. (clap)

You also said, "Good to know you like some aspects of Chinese culture."

Yes, this is true. China to me is a most fascinating country indeed and its people are even more so.

Thank you also for acknowledging that Australia this past weekend just won the Asian Cup football (soccer) finals, defeating South Korea in a tough final round. I would have preferred China to have won it but unfortunately they had been knocked out in the previous round of play.

Go Australia! And go China! (y)

#2015-02-01 19:29:24 by Barry1 @Barry1

@bmccull

Thanks for setting me straight on the situation in Vancouver, bmccull. It does sound like a lovely place, even if it is inhabited by a few drifting Aussies and some homeless people. (rofl)

They say in fact that Canada and Australia in many respects are quite similar to each other, apart from the climate where Australia tends to be hot and Canada tends to be cold, at least in winter.

It certainly is a place I'd like to visit some day. (y)

#2015-02-01 19:36:29 by Barry1 @Barry1

@paulfox1

"I would like to order a pint of whatever it was that you drank before writing this blog"

Thanks for this, Paul but I only had a couple of cups of coffee. I'm glad you enjoyed what I wrote however.

Your poem was very entertaining and spot on!

I am enjoying your articles about Thailand and in combination with what our friend @twilightsmith has written about the place, this has whetted my appetite to add it to my list of "must visit places" before I die.

Good on you, Paul! (y)

#2015-02-01 20:28:26 by Barry1 @Barry1

@sharonshi

"Did you take the pictures at Shawan?"

I forgot to mention that yes, all the pictures except for the frogs, were taken in the general region around Shawan.

If anyone's interested, a map of the area around Shawan can be viewed here:

http://www.ikimap.com/map/administrative-area-shawan-china-0

It is 20 minutes bus drive away from the larger town of Leshan, which is itself about an hour's bus trip from Chengdu (Sichuan province).

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